The amount of ionic current flowing through K+ channels is determined by the interplay between two separate time-dependent processes: activation and inactivation gating. Activation is concerned with the stimulus-dependent opening of the main intracellular gate, whereas inactivation is a spontaneous conformational transition of the selectivity filter toward a nonconductive state occurring on a variety of timescales. A recent analysis of multiple x-ray structures of open and partially open KcsA channels revealed the mechanism by which movements of the inner activation gate, formed by the inner helices from the four subunits of the pore domain, bias the conformational changes at the selectivity filter toward a nonconductive inactivated state. This analysis highlighted the important role of Phe103, a residue located along the inner helix, near the hinge position associated with the opening of the intracellular gate. In the present study, we use free energy perturbation molecular dynamics simulations (FEP/MD) to quantitatively elucidate the thermodynamic basis for the coupling between the intracellular gate and the selectivity filter. The results of the FEP/MD calculations are in good agreement with experiments, and further analysis of the repulsive, van der Waals dispersive, and electrostatic free energy contributions reveals that the energetic basis underlying the absence of inactivation in the F103A mutation in KcsA is the absence of the unfavorable steric interaction occurring with the large Ile100 side chain in a neighboring subunit when the intracellular gate is open and the selectivity filter is in a conductive conformation. Macroscopic current analysis shows that the I100A mutant indeed relieves inactivation in KcsA, but to a lesser extent than the F103A mutant.